The Great Commission
“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20 ESV
If you’re like me, you’ve read these verses many times.
If you’re like me, maybe there have been times during your life where you’ve felt that you’ve been obedient to this call; or maybe you’ve felt like because you’re supporting those that are doing this, you’re doing your part.
If you’re like me, perhaps you’ve read these words and felt that they mainly apply to cross-cultural missionaries, pastors, and teachers. But have you ever considered that Jesus’s command is meant for you and me? Jesus says in John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” If this is true, this commission is not just for “some of us”, and this commission is not for just “some of the time.”
Ok… “go”, but where??
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8 ESV
We support brothers and sisters that are going to the ends of the earth. Think of the Guy Family in Papua New Guinea, which is nearly 9,000 miles away and one of the most linguistically diverse places on earth (with over 850 languages!). They are contributing to the functioning of Wycliffe Bible Translators. Think of Julius and Agnes Muthengi in Nairobi, Kenya, a couple that is ministering both in a School of Theology and the surrounding Kenyan villages. Please pray for these brothers and sisters that are ministering all over the world, as well as close to home.
For those of you reading this, what is your place? Not everyone may find themselves executing the Great Commission across international borders. But that doesn’t mean we are exempt from the command.
Where will you be a witness? Where is your “Jerusalem”— your place— your neighborhood? –
Who are those you brush shoulders with— that you cannot avoid?
Are you walking with an awareness— at a pace that will allow you to notice the needs of others, or are you walking with efficiency, or with your head down?
Are you making room and time in your schedule, or are you just too busy with your job and your household and friends and family?
Are you expecting that you’ll just eventually cross paths with your neighbors? Or do you get out of your car and scurry into the house (because there truly is too much to be done sometimes)?
Are you making an effort to rub shoulders with those that are “not of this fold” (John 10:16), or are you content fellowshipping, learning, and spending time with other disciples Jesus has already won?
Are you content joining in with the chorus of the church “come, come, come”? Or will you embrace what is uncomfortable, and “go, go, go”? (locally or globally)
Make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them…
Ok, that’s a challenge. What in the world does this look like? After telling us to go (the truly hard part), Jesus tells us to (1) baptize people and (2) teach them to obey everything He said. This command doesn’t require you to be a scholar, a pastor, or a teacher. It doesn’t require you to have a degree, to quit your job and raise support, or to have all the answers for that matter. It doesn’t require you to be extremely sociable or brave or well-spoken. It doesn’t require you to “have it all together”, or to have your life “in order.”
Consider this quote from Multiply by Francis Chan. “Jesus’s commands don’t come with exception clauses. He doesn’t tell us to follow unless we’re busy. He doesn’t call us to love our neighbors unless we don’t feel prepared. In fact, if you read Luke 9:57–62, you’ll see several individuals who gave excuses for why they couldn’t follow Jesus at the time. Read the passage and take note of how Jesus responded to them. It may surprise you” He continues, “Being a disciple maker means that you will begin to look at the people in your life differently. Every person in your life is created in the image of God, and Jesus commands every one of them to follow Him. God has placed these people in your life so that you will do everything you can to influence them. Following Jesus means that you will be teaching other people to follow Jesus … Making disciples is far more than a program. It is the mission of our lives. It defines us. A disciple is a disciple maker.”
It is simple— encourage others to follow Jesus, baptize them, and teach them to obey his commands, which He has given to us in Scripture. God has equipped you, disciple, with everything you need to do this. The hard part is, it’s as easy as teaching a blind man to see. 2 Corinthians 4:4-6 says “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” (Genesis 1) made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”
Only God can change people’s hearts and say “let there be light in this heart!” Only He can make this gift irresistibly appealing. Regardless, He has asked us to be the message bearers and disciple makers. We have to look at the people around us, get to know them, introduce them to Jesus, and teach them, even if we feel like we still have plenty to learn ourselves.
If you don’t have time (I’m speaking to you and me here), you must evaluate your life and cut some things out (ouch). Excuses translate to “Jesus, I just don’t love you enough” (even bigger ouch). Making disciples is a matter of love and obedience. And it’s a command for all who claim to love him.
And don’t forget that cool promise Jesus made just before He ascended… “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b
Ali Gochnauer, for the Missions Team
PS: Have you had the chance to get to know and support the DeVinneys? Dan and Lisa DeVinney serve with Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Millersville University and have a passion for college students. Please join us in the fellowship hall for a fundraising lunch THIS SUNDAY, November 3rd following the second service. Come and discover about what’s going on with FCA at Millersville! Soup and salad will be provided.